Ah, branding. I know it makes sense, but I get a bit twitchy when people talk about their ‘personal brand’. The Beckhams, yes; Katie Price, bless her, absolutely; little old me? Um. I’m just not good at blowing my own trumpet.
So I was a bit unsure coming into this week’s Thing. Then I read the post, browsed a few posts by other participants, and now I get it. Branding is less about “look at me! Aren’t I amazing?”, more about presenting the right professional face to the world, and making sure that face is consistent across all your public spaces.
It turns out I’m not that great at branding, which may be why I was nervous this week! I started this blog a year ago, as a record of my Chartership journey. It wasn’t a public thing, more like an online diary that I could access easily, so I didn’t think too much about presentation. I thought of a URL that represented my approach to work, but that was as far as it went. Now people are reading it I think it needs a revamp! Nothing about the formatting says Librarian. A task for the weekend, I think.
The photo here is the same one I use on my Twitter account (@katy_bird), but it’s not a particularly great one (though I do like the hat!). The byline photo I had taken for work is much better, but I’m wary of using it on all my sites – I think of that as my Work Head, whereas this blog, and Twitter, represent my professional self outside of work.
My Twitter feed is a personal account, too, though I use it for non-work library-related issues (I tweet about work separately from our department account (@guardianlibrary), but we use a generic Guardian image – key to company branding!). So the hat pic is my Profersonal Head. I also have a personal blog, and Facebook, with a Personal Head that is different again. I definitely compartmentalise different bits of my online life (insert Worzel Gummidge/Return to Oz joke here).
I have a split personality when it comes to names, too. On Twitter and Flickr, both of which started as personal sites, I use katy_bird, which is an old nickname. On sites like Delicious and Library Thing that I’ve joined more recently, and which I use professionally, I use KatyStoddard. I can see the benefit of this – it’s my name, duh – and I’ve been puzzling for a while whether I should change to that on Twitter. But people who follow me on Twitter know me as katy_bird, so is it too late to change? Tell me, please!
The activity for this week’s Thing was reassuring: all of the first page of results were about me (although I don’t have a very common name!). Top two were my work profile page, followed by Twitter (despite the nickname). LinkedIn came fifth, Facebook sixth, Just Giving was at eight and this blog was tenth.
The other results were sites that referenced articles I’ve written (Mephedrone Today and Why Church, anyone?). It helps that I work for, and sometimes write for, a national newspaper, but I’m pleased my blog made the top ten!
There’s nothing there that I’d be worried about revealing to a potential employer or colleague. Just to make sure, I ran a Google image search (I’m sure I’m tagged in some embarrassing drunk dancing photos on Facebook). Of the photos on the first page that are mine, two were my work photo, two my hat pic and two my Facebook profile picture du jour.
One was the photo I use on Library Thing (I love it, but it’s hard to tell it’s me!). One was a rather sweaty me at the end of a run – personal yes, but not embarrassing. Several linked to stories I’d written – hello, Patrick Swayze and Bristol Palin. And there were a couple of the snap I donated to the Ghost Signs Archive; a bit more embarrassing, as it’s an advert for Bile Beans!
So what does that say about my online brand, bile beans aside? While I’m struggling to coordinate my online personas, it seems my professional profile is strong enough to make me easily findable. I need to work on consistency across all platforms. I definitely need to improve the style of this blog (and maybe Twitter too). And I might want to scrap at least one of the Heads, so my personality isn’t so split!